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British novelist Graham Green had a day job. I’m not sure exactly what he did for a living, but whatever it was it required him to take the tube into London every morning. The commute was his time to write. His practice was to churn out one page of raggedy prose every morning on the way to work, and then to revise it on the trip home that evening. In this way, he managed to produce a finished book every year.

Breaking it down into manageable chunks like this has always seemed to me an eminently sensible way to write a book; which is what I am proposing to do here. I’ll spend the next year or so doing a blog post a day (Okay, there’ll be some days when I’ll blow it, but I’ll do my best) based on the writing prompts in Natalie Goldberg’s books Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, and Old Friend from Far Away. I’m a great fan of Natalie’s, by the way. It was she who, through her books and an occasional workshop, taught me the essentials of the craft.

There’s another reason I’m doing this. Quite frankly, I’m stuck. For the past five years I’ve been writing articles for Examiner.com (now defunct) and the Denver Post YourHub. In 2014, I combined my articles — a series of profiles of contemporary Coloradans — into a book called Cowboys, Yogis, and One-Legged Ski Bums. I’ve spent the year since its publication pretty much doing nothing but promo, and occasionally writing in my private journals. I’m hoping that this blog will get me back into the habit of publishing stuff that people will want to read.

I’m also hoping that maybe, quite possibly, by the end of the day (or month, or year) I’ll have written enough stuff to put together into book form. It’s a grand experiment whose outcome is by no means assured.  Meanwhile, thank you Natalie Goldberg, thank you Graham Green, and thank you whoever you are for reading my blog.

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One thought on “The Goldberg Variations: what I learned about writing from reading Natalie Goldberg

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